An uncharacteristic concept

1957 Willys (Jeep) Commuter conceptUp through the 1980s, Jeep had become best known for their CJ-series off-roader. By the 1990s, its XJ Cherokee’s notoriety was almost as well established. Today, most average people probably relate the Jeep name with the highly popular Grand Cherokee model.

One thing is certain, even non-auto enthusiasts have little problems identifying a Jeep as a Jeep–regardless of the year or model. But that no doubt has a lot to do with the trademark, seven-bar grill.

Case in point, I’m thinking I wouldn’t have been able to identify this concept vehicle as a Jeep (then called Willys), if it wasn’t for that unmistakeable grill.

That’s a Jeep?
Even being such a purpose-focused brand as Jeep, that didn’t stop them from toying with products and ideas over the years that strayed from their successful formula.

1957 Willys (Jeep) FC 150To the left is a picture of a production 1957 Willys (Jeep) model FC 150, courtesy of mad4wheels.

The forward-control (or, “cab-over”) trucks were sold from the mid-1950s until slow sales brought about the model line’s end in 1964 (which, by then, also included the FC 170).

The age of commuting
1957 Willys (Jeep) Commuter conceptTo the right is a picture of a Willys concept vehicle, called the Commuter, which is built on a FC 150 chassis.

I can’t say with total certainty that the concept is from 1957, but that is the best I could narrow it down to. (At the very least it appears to be from between 1956 and 1958.)

From what I read, this forward-control van was one of many design studies along this line which were conducted by Jeep at the time. This particular one, the Commuter, made it all the way to the prototype stage (pictured above right).

Apart from its prophetic minivan characteristics and anti-Jeep appearance, there is a standout feature offered by the Commuter…

…it has six doors.

1957 Willys (Jeep) Commuter concept - three door handles

A final oddity, with the picture, not the vehicle itself, is that the interior and anything seen through the Commuter’s windows have been cartoon-ized.

(Click the thumbnail below to see the image in higher detail.)

1957 Willys (Jeep) Commuter concept

1957 Willys (Jeep) Commuter concept